New passenger safety rules for Australian commercial vessels

The Australian Government has announced new measures to improve the safety of passengers on Australian commercial vessels.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the changes strengthened requirements to ensure passengers were accounted for throughout their journey.

“These changes take a holistic approach to passenger safety and follow extensive industry and public consultation to deal with the complexities and careful consideration of the diverse needs of our commercial vessel sector,” Mr McCormack said.

“These changes include mandating the recording of passenger counts at the end and beginning of every voyage. Higher-risk vessels such as cruise boats and tourism vessels will be required to count passengers whenever they get on and off the vessel – not just at the start and end of a voyage.

“We have clearly defined the responsibilities for operators to have effective procedures to monitor passengers and to have evidence of their safety and emergency procedures for a missing passenger, recorded in their Safety Management System. This will ensure the regulator, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), can verify their compliance with these new rules.”

Based on industry feedback, the changes will enable operators to use the best safety systems and technology for their individual operations – whether that is on/off counting, electronic wristbands, CCTV monitoring or other tools – to ensure their crew can respond to passenger safety incidents as quickly as possible.

The next step will be educative, helping owners and operators in the industry to comply with the rules that take effect on 31 May 2020.

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